By THE NATION,
James Joshua Michael Fagin, 21, went to Pol Captain Daenchai Buntham of the Bo Phut police to say that he had been attacked by a songthaew driver and several other male drivers after a disagreement over the price of a fare to Mae Nam.
Fagin, from South Africa, said that he was with three others, including his girlfriend, and that the songthaew driver wanted to charge them Bt800 per person.
When he laughed at the demand, the driver attacked him with his fists, he said.
Seeing this, five or six other public vehicle drivers joined in and he was knocked to the ground as fists and kicks flew, he claimed.
The attackers then fled the scene as police arrived and Fagin was taken to hospital where he was treated for his injuries, racking up a bill of Bt6,000.
Shortly after Fagin made his statement to police the songthaew driver arrived at the station.
Wanchai Phoonsawat, 47, gave a different version, saying he had offered an Bt800 all-in fare to the tourists and having got no reply to his request, he asked: “How much then?”
He said that he was attacked by the tourists, who started the fight, and that two Thai women then grabbed him by the arms so that the “farangs” could punch him.
“Thank goodness my mates arrived to help me out,” he said.
Wanchai said that he was willing to let bygones be bygones but now that the matter had been reported to police, he said that he would agree to pay for the South African’s hospital bill.
Daenchai fined everyone for the public fight and noted that the songthaew driver agreed to pay the Bt6,000 hospital bill.
Meanwhile, Tourist and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat reported that from January to October last year, tourist police cracked down on thousands of crimes ranging from overcharging taxis to illegal entertainment venues.
Last year tourist police beefed up investigations into unruly taxi drivers and unlawful tour guides. Police arrested 12,679 taxi drivers – including 5,668 drivers who refused to pick up passengers, 3,408 drivers who refused to use meters and 1,659 drivers who overcharged. That was up from 1,681, 255, and 120 driver arrests during the same period a year earlier.
Police also arrested 1,581 unauthorised tour guides, and 390 so-called “sitting guides”, who use their licences to accompany an unauthorised guide who can speak foreign languages. The number was up from 132 and nine guides arrested in 2017.
Tourist police also arrested 6,333 low-quality tour operators, 26 vendors who offered overpriced products to tourists, and raided 35 illegal entertainment venues.
They also found 1,406 cases of illicit drugs at tourist venues. There were also 161 cases of “influential people” carrying firearms in tourist areas and 9,533 cases where tourists were affected.